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IOSR Journal of Mobile Computing & Application (IOSR-JMCA)

e-ISSN: 2394-0050, P-ISSN: 2394-0042.Volume 2, Issue 2. (May. - Jun. 2015), PP 56-61


www.iosrjournals.org

Enhancing Courier Service with the Development of an Interactive


Mobile App in Android Platform
Agu, MN, Nwoye CI and Ogbuokiri BO
Department of Computer Science, University of Nigeria, Nsukka

Abstract: In a large world like ours, sending packages from place to place by a third party is inevitable since
package owners cannot be able to tour round all the desired destinations within the required period. The courier
service systems provide the service but with less efficiency in terms of delivery, comfort, cost estimation from the
users point of view, and tracking of items in dispatch. This paper studied the courier processes and offers a
mobile platform to perform all courier transactions like providing users with a platform to cost their parcels
sending service, send package, track the package and make complains in case of missing package from the
comfort of their home. The deployment platform of the software is Android mobile devices. The System was
developed using Object Oriented Analysis and Design Methodology (OOADM). The programming language used
for the implementation include: XML; and Java programming were employed for the development of the users
application, whereas PHP was used at the server backend. Android Studio and PHP Storm served as IDEs at the
development stage. The outcome of the research and development will ensure that customers easily participate
effectively in pre-courier, courier and post-courier activities which will drastically reduce the unbudgeted cost of
transaction and build trust in the courier service system.
Keywords: Courier service, mobile courier, Android, package trackability, pick up service, speed post, prior cost
estimation.

I.

Introduction

Mobile Courier Service system is a system that offers special delivery of packages, documents or
information. Courier services usually boast of faster delivery times than any alternative method of transporting
documents, and many services in the modern world. Couriers are distinguished from ordinary mail services by
features such as door to door delivery, track and trace technology (US-ASEAN Business Council, 2005), speed,
security, tracking, signature, specialization and individualization of services.
Mobile Courier Service System is a special courier system where all courier transactions are done via a mobile
phone. The system also pre-informs the user about how much it will cost them to send the package and also the
arrival date of the package they want to send. The mobile courier service system also provides a map for the
courier agents which will enable them to easily navigate to their picking or delivery point.

II. Review of related literature


According to Wikipedia (2007), the use of courier or courier-like services has been in existence right
from the ancient days. Tracing back to those days when runners and homing pigeons and riders on horseback were
used to deliver timely messages. Thus initially, foot messengers physically ran miles to their destinations. To this
day, there are marathons directly related to actual historical messenger routes. In the Middle Ages, royal courts
maintained their own messengers who were paid little more than common labourers Small (2012). This system is
not efficient because a messenger can only be allocated to one user; therefore there is under utilization of the
messengers labour services and other resources. Following a report by US-ASEAN Business Council on Global
Market ( 2005), the services provided by Courier companies share some characteristics which differentiate them
from other traditional forms of delivery services: (i) Door to door delivery: This includes the seamless transfer
across multiple modes of transport. The integrated aspect of the service offered frees the customer from the need
to make complex transportation arrangements for pick-up and delivery. (ii) Close custodial control: Using
sophisticated information systems that enhance security, EDS firms maintain close custodial and administrative
control over all shipments. This is particularly important to reduce the risk of loss or damage to goods in transit,
and (iii) Track and trace technology: Shippers and consignees may track the precise movement and location of
their shipments and confirm delivery. Wikipedia Records (2007), wrote that the largest courier service in the
world is the United Parcel Service (UPS), which delivers more than 12 million packages globally each day.
Federal Express (FedEx) and DHL are other well-known global examples of the courier service, both with their
roots in the early 1970s.

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Enhancing Courier Service with the Development


Orunga (2012) opined that parcel delivery companies experience a host of problems in their service
delivery which culminate in increasing the cost of services, time wasting and poor service delivery. He further
argued that lack of messaging services lead to weak audit trails for deliveries and that the manual system of
managing deliveries often results to poor coordination of deliveries and collections and recommended the use of
right technology to customize the services for a greater step ahead in the courier industry. His major reason for the
technological approach is to increase the accuracy of courier records, and manage time effectively. Karlson et al,(
2008) took a study into the electronic file exchange aspect of courier. The study highlighted the essence and place
of Courier leverages mobile phone and PCs especially in the activities of sharing of electronic files and URLs
from users' personal work environment anywhere they have their phones and access to a shared display. It also
portrays the usability issues that will require further refinement, such as users concerns with privacy, reliability
and speed of package delivery.
Chris (2006) came up with a design for a courier system meant for a desktop application. But this is not
sufficient, implementation is also needed. Chauhan et al., (2010) in their paper came from the angle that web
based application is the magic of todays world and projected e-Courier Services for business to business
interaction as a basic solution towards high-tech courier services in India. They presented an e-courier service that
users can use and perform their courier transactions. Here the app was deployed as a web application targeted to
Indian users. Their concept in the paper was deployed on the web and but was not targeted to mobile phone users.
In Azeta et al (2010), it was noted that the existing express delivery system lack mobile facilities for customers to
lodge complains and track which makes it difficult that while the shipment is on the move, the customers are kept
in the dark about their consignment and also the courier agents are not able to access courier information while on
the field. For this, the author therefore proposed the Mobile Express Delivery System (EDS) which will provide
the courier customers with a means of tracing/tracking shipment, lodging of complaints and making financial
transactions on shipment. This should also assist the courier staff to effectively manage courier related data with a
mobile phone in order to enhance time, efficiency and documentation management for the customer and courier
staff. The author took a critical look at the courier section in Nigeria and concluded that it was still far from using
mobile device to support their operations, considering the enormous benefits of mobile applications in the global
economy. Hence, there is need to scale it down to mobile since the number of mobile phone users now supersedes
the number of PC users Murtagh,( 2014).
The work of Karlson (2008) presented a system that enables two or more parties to share file from their
mobile device. The limitation of this system is that it was just developed for sending and receiving of
e-documents. Also, the system shares its documents over Bluetooth connection which has range limit. In
Azeta et al., (2010), wap enabled phones was proposed to be part of designed considerations for a mobile
express delivery system. The system enables user to perform various courier operations like tracking, check
account statement and lodging complaint. In this contemporary period, mobile phones have become smarter
with the advent of the Android operating system which now makes up 84% of the worlds smart phone
market. The work in Azeta et al. (2010) was designed for mobile using java language; but the system
proposed, due to technological revolutions, now has less use and will be seen as archaic.
According to Fabiano (2010), the major selling point for logistics companies is access to the delivery
status of a consignment which should be provided by courier and cargo companies for their clients through a toll
free hotline, SMS and company website. In order to enhance this services, the author says that PT Repex Wahana
(RPX), a local logistics company in partner with FedEx, is to offer a number of high tech service features which
includes the RPX Global Positioning System (GPS) that is placed in every company vehicle so that its
whereabouts can be traced and the RPX Tracker, which is an enhanced PDA complete with Wi-Fi and GPS that is
carried by each courier to input data when the consignment is received by the customer or to update the status of
the consignment.
Emeje(2013) opined that effort are being made to educate the courier operators on how they can use ICTs
for tracking and other trading activities.
He throws light on national economic potential of indigenous
courier operators leveraging electronic commerce platform as canvassed by the Courier Regulatory Department to
prosper the industry. The Nigeria ICT Compumetrics report (2003) observed that multinational courier
companies in developing countries such as Nigeria make use of sophisticated ICT products and equipment
courtesy of their foreign partners. According to Schmidt (2015), the couriers and local delivery services in the US
primarily provide express delivery and pickup of parcels. He highlighted that E-commerce trade is one of the
major drivers of the global courier service industry. Electronic aspect of courier is recommended with the
increasing demand of e-commerce all over the world. According to the author, there are 3 types of courier services
in US, viz-a-viz; Carriers, Freight and Haulage.
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The Carriers (they are large delivery companies that have a wide delivery network and a large fleet. Their
fleet includes airplanes, trucks, vans, and ships). Carriers offer an entire supply chain solution for a large variety of
goods. The Freight forwarders are subcontractors to airlines or carriers. Most freight forwarders offer specialized
services like pallets, parcels, or bulky goods transport. The Haulage services transport bulky and heavy goods.
Haulage services are not trackable like the services of carriers or freight forwarders. Most hauliers make use of rail
networks to transport goods. In another work published in Yosep, (2014), a food ordering application was design
for the Android platform. In Yosep, (2014) both the client-side(mobile phone) and the server side of the software
were designed. It also included system that will be able to track an order.
Courier business is presently a critical service sector of global economy, reaching to nearly every hamlet
across the world in Isaac (2010). It is also one of the fastest growing sectors. Inability of state run postal systems to
cope with 20th Century jet-age demands of speed, security & expanded delivery led to emergence of modern
private courier firms, operating side by side with state run postal system that has become an endangered species.
Despite influx of new entrants in the last 15 years, the sector is still far from saturation point.

III. The Mechanisms of Interactive Mobile Courier Service System


The concept of mobile courier service system is to enable user to send packages without stepping out of
their house. Courier service is not complete until the dispatched parcel gets to the final recipient and the delivery
report to sender. This service is best if it can be efficient in the three stages of the service, viz-a-viz: pre-courier,
courier and post-courier activities. The pre-courier activities encompass all the preparatory actions taken before
the dispatch of the parcel. This includes identifying the courier agents/company, costing the service, specifying
the delivery variables and registering the parcel for dispersal. The uncertainty of the costs of sending the package
has become a big problem in the system. There is need for clients to know how much it will cost them to send a
package from the comfort of their home or offices before making any move so as to eliminate some untold
disappointments. The system will have the cost estimation capability using the parameters of date, time frame,
weight, distance and delivery preference supplied by the clients thereby informing a potential user the cost of
sending a particular package and the expected delivery date and time ahead of the initiation of the service proper.
There are associated stress and time wastage from the customers point of view in going to the courier
office as well as waiting on the service queue just to send packages. Therefore, it will be significant for the system
to make room for users to send a request for service after the necessary pre-courier services and then a courier
agent can come to clients location to pick up the package for delivery. The courier service starts from here.
Payment for the service can be made at this point using the most prevalent and safest form of making payment.
Ineffective tracking system in the existing courier service is another problem to the customers
satisfaction of the service. With a mobile network platform, an easier, better and faster way of tracking users
parcels coupled with a notification service which can be in form of an app custom notification or
telecommunication SMS can be provided.
Some courier agents may find it difficult to locate recipient of the package being sent. The users
participation in the courier service using the mobile application makes the meeting ground very efficient. The
courier agent can easily seek for direction and redirection from either/both the sender or/and the recipient using
the mobile app. This is the turning point in the users participation in courier service. At some point in time, the
courier agents can also use the app to easily locate a customers address with the aid of Google map API. This API
assists courier agents navigating to their picking or delivery points.
At the final dispatch, both the recipient and sender can acknowledge the service completion using the mobile
platform. This is regarded as the users participation in post-courier service. In addition, It introduces a faster way
to lay complain about a delay in delivery or missing package.
In this regards, fast means of communication between the customer and the agency is enhanced via virtualization
of space.

IV. The Design of Interactive Mobile Courier Android System


The Object Oriented Analysis and Design Methodology (OOADM) was used in the research and development.
Whereas Object Oriented Analysis (OOA) emphasizes on finding and describing the objects (concepts) in the
problem domain, Object Oriented Design emphasizes on defining software objects and how they collaborate to
fulfill the requirements dealing basically with objects, classes, relationships and instances.Figure 1, presents the
requirement specification of the system in a use case diagram as a graphical means of representing the
functionalities of the system. It represent the sequence of actions carried out by the system during execution and
the relationships between functional parts of the system. The UML diagram in the figure 1 above shows the list of
activities and actors involved in the system. A lot of actions need some other actions to precede before their
completion (<<includes>>), while some actions too need other actions to follow their completion (<<extends>>).
For instance, for a user to complete Request for courier service, actions such as Register parcel and Pay for the
service has to be executed before the completion of that function, whereas action like Invite Agent follows
immediately after the completion of the request.
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Figure 1: UML use case diagram for the interactive mobile courier system
Three actors, the sender, agent and recipient are the target users of the app. Whereas sender subscribes for
the service, tracks the progress and gets notification of its completion, the agent is an intermediary actor between
the sender and the recipient. When the user requests to send a package transfer request, the admin server receives
the request and process it automatically. It finds and sends request to the appropriate and most convenient agents.
The agent acknowledges the assignment and sees to the dispatch of the parcel. The recipient receives the parcel
and acknowledges reception. The whole activities are synchronized on a central database which in combination of
the software and the users make up the system.
All the actors can track service using a tracking code. The sender tracks the status, the recipient tracks the
proximity of delivery and the agents tracks his directions. The customer service module handles the reporting of
lost packages and so on.
How it works:
The proposed system presents a better way of sending and tracking your packages. Using the proposed system,
here are the steps you have to follow to send a packages:
i. Open the mobile courier app and key in the details of the package you want to send.
ii. Key in the details of the recipient
iii. The system will tell you how much it will cost to send the package and the date of arrival of the package.
iv. When you complete the transaction, a courier agent comes to your address to pick up the package
v. When you package leaves your destination, details about its location will be sent to you via mobile
notification.
vi. In case you have any complain to lodge, you can still do it via the mobile app.
vii. There is also provision for courier agent to trace the route between two points with the proposed system.

V. Architecture of the System


The architecture of the system is 3-tier. The presentation tier, middle tier, and data tier. The system has
two presentation tiers. The one at the client side which was built using XML. The one at the server side was built
using HTML. The middle tier also called the business logic was built using java and PHP. Java was used to get all
data from the presentation tier(client side) then it does calculations where necessary and parses the data to the
server using JSON code. PHP interprets the data which was parsed from the client side and then stores it in the
Data tier which is the SQL database.

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System Implementation
The interface of the android client application was designed with XML, having java code running
behind them. With built-in support for Google Cloud Platform, it was easy to integrate Google Cloud Messaging
and App Engine. Being an Android app, java was used for all its activities implementations. PHP was used at the
server backend and also to interface the MySQL database for its online contents. JSON was employed in creating
an interaction between the Android SQlite database on the users app and MySQL database at the admins host.
XML was very useful in the layout design and in storage of some static data.

Figure 2: screenshot of the software

VI. Conclusion and Recommendation


This paper presents a mobile courier service system for the courier service sector in Nigeria. A critical
look at the courier section in Nigeria shows that they are still far from using mobile device to support their
operations, considering the enormous benefits of mobile applications in the global economy. The system as
developed provides an easier means to send documents and other package like laptops, books, etc. with less delay
and stress. People do not have to visit the courier offices again for any reason. The Mobile courier service system
provided in this paper, when fully deployed, will help to improve the services rendered by courier companies in
Nigeria. So far, this system provides complete client side courier software which customers can use to send their
package to various destinations By the resources available to us and considering the limitation, we were able to
completely implement the client side of the mobile courier service system and we leave the rest as
recommendation for further development.

Reference
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